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Offensive line gets some tinkering

By ROGER MILLS
Published April 8, 2004

TAMPA - While the starting five on the offensive line may be months away from being finalized, the Bucs began this week to tinker with a few possibilities as the team gathered for voluntary workouts.

Joining John Wade at center could be Derrick Deese at left tackle, Todd Steussie at right tackle, Matt O'Dwyer at left guard and Matt Stinchcomb at right guard.

Among those likely to be displaced is Kenyatta Walker, now entering his fourth season. Walker, who started 14 games at right tackle last year, may be heading to the bench but isn't surrendering.

"It's a competitive thing and I have never been afraid of competition," Walker said. "A lot of decisions have been made that I can't control and the only thing I can do is go out there and be detailed and consistent and play ball.

"I take it personally. If you don't stand for something, you don't stand for anything. I take it very personally. I take it (with) a little bitterness. If I had a chip on one shoulder (before), now I have it on both shoulders."

Walker has had an eventful tenure with the Bucs. The first-round pick, 14th overall in 2001, played right tackle at the University of Florida but was moved to left tackle as a rookie.

He eventually struggled and was moved to right tackle, where he played solidly during the Super Bowl season. But last year, Walker and the rest of the offensive line had problems with inconsistency and penalties, forcing the Bucs to bring in new bodies.

"The bottom line is that we all want this team to do well," Walker said. "We all are disappointed and bitter about what happened last year. It was my first year not getting that playoff check. I didn't watch the Super Bowl, and to see the team that was in it was even more distressing.

"How are we not fueled for playing like we did last year. I feel fuel from that. I feel fuel from getting booed every time they call my name. It's enough gas in the tank. I guess I'm driving an Excursion. ... We had a bad year last year and I'm the whipping dog. So, keep on whipping."

PITTMAN WATCH: Running back Michael Pittman participated in the first two days of voluntary workouts and has impressed the coaching staff.

But Pittman is awaiting sentencing April 23 after pleading guilty to a felony charge stemming from a domestic incident in May. He likely faces a multi-game suspension from the league, considering he already was suspended one game in 2001 for a separate incident.

Bucs general manager Bruce Allen said the team is comfortable with the other running backs on the roster (Mike Alstott, Charlie Garner, Brandon Bennett and Jamel White) and will take a patient approach to dealing with any sanctions from the league.

"His attorney has kept us informed with what's been transpiring," Allen said. "Until they happens, there's no way to speculate."

THE G-MAN: Receiver Joey Galloway, acquired in a trade for Keyshawn Johnson, is fitting in nicely with his new team and already showing signs that he could play a big role in the offensive scheme.

"If you make a mistake, he can hurt you bad," coach Jon Gruden said. "He's got great foot speed. His speed and acceleration are rare. He's going to give us something that maybe we can use to creatively probe the defense, maybe generate a big play or two. It's too early to make a bunch of predictions, but he's blessed with great speed and acceleration and we're going to try to use that as much as we can."

[Last modified April 8, 2004, 01:35:43]

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